One of Ming-Chi Kuo’s specialties is giving us a longer-term view of Apple products based on early looks at new designs and possibly even experimental prototypes as they move into the overseas supply chain. We’ve heard from him about devices well ahead of their appearance in the everyday tech rumor mill before and now he’s back with his latest prediction.
In a new investor’s note reported on by MacRumors, Kuo states that Apple will release its first foldable iPhone in 2023. While that’s well behind Samsung and Huawei, the trailblazers in this field, it sounds like the sweet spot for Apple based on their usual hardware release strategy. While the smartphone market has contracted a bit with LG exiting, the rest of the field hasn’t jumped into the foldables market with both feet either, leaving Apple plenty of room for a fashionably late entrance.
With the popularity of Apple’s iPhone Pro Max models and the surge in iPad sales over the last year, a more portable 8″ device sounds like a logical evolutionary step for Apple’s smartphones, at least at the high end. However, I have to disagree with Kuo’s enthusiasm over Apple’s entry and the market in general. While it will get attention, I don’t think a foldable iPhone will be anywhere near the company’s best-selling model because of the obligatory high price tag. That won’t be changing for a long time, so I believe foldables will continue to be more a luxury high-end item, rather than a huge volume seller.
That said, I’m just the kind of
sucker customer who foldables are targeted at. I couldn’t help my curiosity earlier this year and I bought the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to try it out. While I ultimately returned it, that was more because I am just not interested in switching to Android and the price is a bit too high to keep one around as a secondary device.
None of that means I didn’t like the Fold 2 and I really did consider hanging onto it despite the high price tag. The hardware was surprisingly nice considering how poor the reviews of Samsung’s first attempt at a foldable was. While the crease in the screen was quite evident, it wasn’t a deal-killer and that screen looked really good fully opened. However, I did find the Fold a bit too narrow for my tastes in its folded form. I would much prefer a wider foldable iPhone with a 5″+ screen in its folded form when Apple joins the fray.
Based on my experience with the Fold 2 hardware, I am definitely intrigued with the possibility of an 8″ foldable iPhone. I would be especially interested if Apple includes Pencil compatibility, which I have been wanting to see come to the iPhone for years. It’s hard to be certain about that at the moment and Kuo doesn’t mention it in this report, but I think it would make perfect sense for an iPhone that size.
Even if stylus support doesn’t make the cut, I will likely be there on day one when a foldable iPhone does arrive. It’s exactly the kind of device I would like to have as a daily driver smartphone while working as a project manager in the field. I won’t be turning in my iPad Pro, as I still have plenty of other uses for it. But an 8″ screen that I can carry in my pocket is exactly what I want in the long term, so the sooner Apple gets in this game, the better.
What do you think about the prospect of an 8″ foldable iPhone? Are you intrigued? Buying day one? Not interested? Let me know in the Comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.